- The Washington Times - Monday, February 5, 2007

“I’m very politically incorrect, college campus psychiatrist Dr. Miriam Grossman says as she takes aim at a dogma that says, “Latex protects, behaviors are entrenched, disease is unavoidable.”

“The message must get out: Casual sex is a health hazard for young women,” Dr. Grossman says in her new book, “Unprotected: A Campus Psychiatrist Reveals How Political Correctness in Her Profession Endangers Every Student,” which she wrote under the name “Anonymous, M.D.” for fear of professional reprisals.

A few weeks ago, she identified herself and her employer for the past 10 years, the University of California at Los Angeles, on Laura Schlessinger’s “Dr. Laura” radio program.

“I would have preferred to steer clear of these topics, but this book came and pounded on my door,” she explained recently at the Best Friends Foundation’s leadership conference in Washington. “A year ago, I couldn’t have” gone public, she said. “But I am fine now.”

Dr. Grossman argues that campus life and college health care are dominated by a “doctrine of sex without consequences” and that certain concepts, such as the idea that getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD) is a rite of passage, cannot be questioned.

“Radical politics pervades my profession and common sense has vanished,” she told the Best Friends leaders, who teach character education and sexual abstinence to thousands of young people. Research that doesn’t fit with the social agenda is ignored, she said, and as a result:

Young women aren’t taught that, for biological reasons, they are likely to bond emotionally with the men with whom they have sex and this is part of the reason they often feel angry, distressed or depressed after casual sexual activity.

Teenage girls are not taught that their reproductive systems are more vulnerable to infections than those of older women. This is why telling teens to delay sexual intercourse is “sound medical advice,” she says.

Young women aren’t warned that being diagnosed with an STD is often a shocking and traumatic event, and that medical treatments cannot guarantee that their STDs will not continue to cause problems, especially when they are trying to get pregnant or give birth.

Young women are not encouraged to talk about their abortion experiences even though their crying spells, insomnia and depression may be linked to such an event.

Young women are not advised by college counselors about planning for motherhood, even if this among their life goals.

In a sad chapter called “Amanda’s 39th Birthday,” Dr. Grossman tells the story of a graduate student who is in excellent physical health but is seeking counseling because she is bored with her research, disenchanted with university life and crying every day. It turns out “Amanda” is deeply afraid that she will never have children. She did not marry a serious boyfriend in her early 30s because she “wasn’t ready” and, years later, she hasn’t found anyone else.

“But educated as she is,” Amanda is unlikely to be familiar with the ordeal of infertility, the risks of getting pregnant for the first time in her 40s or the disappointing success rate of artificial reproductive technology, wrote Dr. Grossman, who says the media and a feminist agenda do not disclose the true parameters of a woman’s fertility.

Dr. Grossman’s book has been praised by professional colleagues such as Dr. Joe S. McIlhaney, founder of the Medical Institute for Sexual Health.

Others find her conclusions unconvincing.

“I don’t think it’s fair to say women are hard-wired to emotionally bond with those they have sexual relationships with,” said Dr. Jennifer Wider, author of “The Doctor’s Complete College Girls’ Health Guide: From Sex to Drugs to the Freshman 15” and a medical adviser to the Society for Women’s Health Research.

The hormone oxytocin may indeed be something of a “cuddle” hormone for lovers, but it’s not released automatically in every sexual act, so it’s unlikely that oxytocin alone can be responsible for any emotional distress a woman might feel, she said.

In addition, she said, “I have interviewed many, many women who have had casual sexual relationships in college and don’t feel the need for an emotional bond.” So the idea that there is a general, biological basis for women to feel emotional havoc over casual sex is “a bit of a stretch for me.”

In a point of agreement with Dr. Grossman, Dr. Wider thinks that most young women are unaware that their sexual organs are still maturing and they are more susceptible to STDs than older women. But this means “we need to educate them about how to protect themselves from STDs, rather than tell them to delay sex, because I really think [telling them to delay sex is] unrealistic.”

As for Dr. Grossman’s assertions that her views are unwelcome in a “politically correct” academic world, Paul Fornell, president of the American College Counseling Association, said: “My personal take is, ‘Oh, you’ve got to be kidding.’ ”

“I’ve known literally thousands of therapists and hundreds of health educators, and I can’t remember a one who … blatantly tells college students, particularly females, to go around and have as much promiscuous, unprotected sex as you can possibly handle,” said Mr. Fornell, who counsels at California State University at Long Beach.

Maybe that is an exaggeration of Dr. Grossman’s stance, he said, but the vast number of professionals would not urge students to undertake unhealthy behavior.

As for casual sex, “my reading of higher-ed history is that that’s always been going on,” he said. “I’m not defending it,” but campus professionals are well aware of student life and do “all that we can to educate students about all their options.”

In Mr. Fornell’s view, counselors primarily should guide young adults into healthy, successful, independent and interdependent lives, and encourage those who need it to seek mental health and other help. After 35 years of counseling experience, he said, he still likes to remind students that “it is a strong student who knows he needs help. It is a smart student who goes and gets help.”

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